Driving out of BrisVegas this morning after saying a final farewell to an era, a seven-hour abyss stretched before me. I was a mixed bag of emotions, but I had plenty of time to sort the Wizz Fizz from the snakes on the way to my folks’ place at Tamworth.
Herein lies the brilliance of a road trip. Time is your friend. I could indulgently ponder saying goodbye to Brisbane, the great mates I had there and other important issues, such as whether tequila shots would be ok with limes or if it definitely has to be lemons. Of course, due to the driving I could not test out the limes versus lemons issue, but I could certainly think about it at length.
I’m a big fan of car trips. It’s a product of my childhood. Every school holidays Ma and Pa would lug my brothers and me to Sydney or Cowra or Bundaberg or Pindari Dam. They would go anywhere, as long as it meant at least eight hours a day in the Commodore.
Cricket season was the best, at least according to my Dad. We would start the driving about 20 minutes before the first ball and stop for sangers when the cricketers were called in for lunch. The cricket commentators were great company.
Sometimes we’d arrive at a location, park a few streets away and listen to a nail-gripping finish, all packed in the car like prisoners being transported to a new facility. At least it felt like prison to a young girl keen to play with her dolls and get away from her stinky brothers after eight hours of noogies.
Today, there was no cricket. But I managed to get through with help from Triple J and a bit of ABC Radio National. There was one rather interesting radio documentary about why humans have hair and why women get it waxed. It was incredibly interesting. And the best part was I could dedicate the entire stretch between Tenterfield and Gen Innes, which takes about an hour, to thinking about why a woman should or should not get a Brazilian wax. Fascinating stuff.
I had time to think about the mammoth clean we did at the house yesterday. Ten hours of wall scrubbing wore Shorn, Amber and I to thin shadows of our former selves. Today I marvelled at the sense of achievement you get from cleaning and Lowry’s ability to turn anything into a game.
Cleaning the fridge, for example, involved seeing how far away you could be from the Westinghouse and still stick a magnet on it through Frisbee-like throws.
A pile of rubbish on its way to the tip becomes Junk-enga.
Reflecting on those sorts of shenanigans and the underlying optimism took up a good 20 minutes.
The scenery and sunset also impressed me. Of course, it’s no Tasmania but the area around Warwick is stunning as it looks out to the ocean. The shadow of Bluff Rock near Tenterfield was eerie. Luscious pastures turned to burnt brown grass like a game of Wheel of Fortune as I meandered south. Further into the New England hinterland the lanky poplar trees in a stunning autumn-yellow reminded me of my time at university Armidale. Recalling the goon-fuelled shenanigans took up at least an hour.
I even drove past an entire field of sunflowers. That was like staring at a sea of smiles.
Stopping in for a few cuppa at the Driver Reviver, that really put a smile on my face. I mean, it’s tea and it’s free. Wow!
And my car, a 22-year vintage Holden Apollo, she purred down the highway, pleased to be unleashed from the shackles of city driving.
The whole trip was lovely really; exciting, thought-provoking and relaxing. It was all of those good things until I was about 50 kilometres from Tamworth. That’s when time stood still.
I busted open my second bag of carrots (emergency rations) and called my Mum. She was getting dinner ready. “Anything you’d like,” she asked me, excitedly. “Yeah, maybe some tuna and steamed vegetables,” I replied.
“Well you’ll just get what you’re given, Pen,” she says. Looks like it’s oven-roasted spuds.
So after saying goodbye to my mates and a few hours behind the wheel, I drove into Ma and Pa’s. Dad came out in his boxer shorts and directed me into the yard as if my car was a Jumbo Jet. “Penny! Welcome home,” he yelled. I was so pleased to see him.
I know in this adventure, indeed in our life, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. I know that, but seeing my folks tonight put the field of sunflowers to shame.